Saturday, January 27, 2007

Don Williams

It's What We Don't Know That Kills

by Don Williams

OK, what would YOU do about the Middle East?

That’s a question I try to avoid because to answer is immodest. So, when pressed, I acknowledge up front that I dwell in ignorance, and so do you. Otherwise, answer me this: Why are we spending over $1 billion to build an embassy complex in Baghdad rather than, say, $10 million or $100 million? I don’t know the answer and neither do you.

That’s ignorance, my friend.

And as the late great prophet Carl Sagan once said, if we’re going to survive as a species we’ll have to get lots smarter lots faster. From my perch in lofty Tennessee, it appears Washington went the opposite direction several years ago, and that got lots of folks killed, maimed and displaced—millions in Iraq alone since the Shock & Awe of March, 2003.

The sad yet happy news is that answers were and are plentiful. Scholars, authors, columnists, businessmen, diplomats, scientists, soldiers, spies, clerics, artists, ex-presidents and ordinary citizens predicted the current mess in Iraq years back. It’s time we listened. So, with the goal of being much smarter by say, Tuesday, I’d ask lots of questions to people who got it right, starting yesterday. Specifically I’d ask…

* Is President Bush’s “Surge”—rushing 22,000 more troops to Iraq—merely a smokescreen to keep our focus off air and missile strikes he’s already planned for Iran in coming weeks?

* Is there anything to media reports that Bush/Cheney intend to bomb Iranian nuclear installations as early as April, so Tony Blair can lend political support before leaving office?

* Is the Washington Post right in estimating that Iran is still ten years away from building a nuke?

* How’s the freedom and democracy Reform Movement in Iran doing?

* Have our policies hindered this movement?

* Did Bush policies inadvertently bring about the 2005 runoff election of Iran’s radical president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—an election he won by a narrow plurality?

* What will be the effect on Afghanistan of pulling soldiers out for use in Iraq or Iran at a time when the Taliban is rebuilding and heroin production is at an all-time high?

* Why do we need that $1 billion-plus embassy in Baghdad and those four huge military bases, capable of heavy air traffic, we’re building in Iraq? Are we planning to stay permanently?

* Was Nancy Pelosi correct to assert last week that we’re coercing Iraq into giving Western oil companies 75 percent of that country’s profits?

* Is our Middle East policy based on oil?

* Burning oil is destructive but indispensable for now. Someone has to keep those oil fields secure. Are we building a community of nations—not just a patchwork coalition of the willing—to make this happen in such a way that won’t lead to disastrous wars?

* What really happened at Tora Bora in late 2001? Did scores of al-Qaeda and Taliban fly, drive and run away to the mountains of Pakistan, with our aid, where bin Laden lives to this day?

* Did we allow a safe haven for al-Qaeda in Pakistan, a country bristling with nuclear technology, while blowing the lid off non-nuclear Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11?

* Was that George Bush’s idea? Dick Cheney’s? Was it based on ideas from a small but rich and influential cabal of so-called Neocons in Washington? How did this disaster happen?

* Is our own government’s National Intelligence Estimate correct, that the War in Iraq serves as a recruiting tool for al-Qaida and other terrorist outfits around the world?

* Was our decision to invade Iraq based largely on lies from a tortured man named Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi? Whose idea was it to make the use of such torture part of US policy?

* How is the morale of our soldiers? Why didn’t we pin medals on their chests and bring them home after capturing Saddam Hussein?

* Who is doing most of the killing in Iraq? Is it the Sunnis or is it Shiite militias beholden to the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in league with the al-Maliki government? Are they working in league to murder Sunnis, using the new Iraqi army we’ve trained and protected?

* If so, does that make us a party to genocide against the Sunnis?

* Can we fix this mess starting yesterday?

More later.


Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist and the founding editor and publisher of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of literary writing. His awards include a National

Endowment for the Humanities Michigan Journalism Fellowship, a Golden Presscard Award and the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize. He is finishing a novel, “Red State Blues,” set in his native Tennessee and Iraq. His book of selected journalism, “Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes, the Best Writings About People” by Don Williams, is now available for ordering. For more information, email him at Or visit the NMW website at


DEN said...

The cartoon is a bit old but the message remains the same, citizen apathy continues unabated.

Alan, I agree WMR seems a bit out there at times and like everything you see or hear anywhere today from anyone should be taken with a grain of salt also.

The bond of trust has been broken by many politicos and the media.

What exactly IS the truth?

DEN said...

Think this is true?

Judy, a professional genealogical researcher, discovered that Hillary
Clinton's great, great uncle, Remus Rodham, a fellow lacking in character, was hanged for horse stealing & train robbery in Montana in 1889. The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription: "Remus Rodham; horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887 during transfer to Federal
Prison in Kansas, robbed the Montana Flyer 6 times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted & hanged in 1889."

Judy e-mailed Hillary Clinton @NY.Gov for comments. Hillary's staff of professional image adjusters scanned Remus' picture, cropped it, enlarged the image, & edited it with image processing software so that all that is
seen is a head shot. The accompanying biographical sketch reads as follows:

"Remus Rodham was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets & business dealings vital to the stock value of Montana Railroad. Beginning in 1883, he
devoted several years of his life to service at various government facilities, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the Railroad. In 1887, he was
a key person in an investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during a civic function held in his honor, when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."

DEN said...

Big day in DC, I hope the message gets out to even more folks that have not paid attention so far.

We will see what MSM does for coverage.

Hoping for a great and safe event!

Saladin said...


DEN, no need to wait for MSM coverage!

uncledad said...

C-span just suspended coverage of the ant-war rally to cover Hillary's town hall meeting in Iowa?

Alan said...

Den said : "Alan, I agree WMR seems a bit out there at times..."
"What exactly IS the truth?"
You asked, we deliver... straight from the trial.

Libby Live: Cathie Martin, part 2

MTP (putting VP on MTP), plus a pro and con of putting VP on MTP Pros: best format, we control the message, Cons: too weedy Too defensive, Raises the bar, meant I thought it raises the bar on the story.
Leak to Sanger/Pincus/Newsmag: Sanger was working on what he thought was a definitive piece, we could go to Sanger and tell him our version of this. Reporter with NYT. Pincus, WaPo, must have been writing story about his particular story. Newsmags, bc it was the end of the week, Time, Newsweek, deadlines are on Saturday.
Press conference with Condi or Rummy.
Op-ed. In my vernacular, it also can mean having a third party write one
K, that's from "EmptyWheel" aka Marcy Wheeler, a lawyer and author (it's her book at top left of the FDL page) reading straight from the projected image of the document. This is a big embarrassment for Cathie Martin personally and the inside dirt of Cheney's office... but NOT the smoking gun memo WMR said.

Alan said...

I forgot to bold "newsmags", which would be the third of the five bullet points. As in...

Newsmags, bc it was the end of the week, Time, Newsweek, deadlines are on Saturday.

David B. Benson said...

Based on some knowledge regarding uranium enrichment, yes, Iran is about a decade away from having enough weapons-grade uranium for a 'device'...

Alan said...

Tens of thousands demand Iraq withdrawal

WASHINGTON - Convinced this is their moment, tens of thousands marched Saturday in an anti-war demonstration linking military families, ordinary people and an icon of the Vietnam protest movement in a spirited call to get out of Iraq.
On the left side is a link to a slide show and one to a short video.

DEN said...

Alan, I see your point.

Hope all are testifying truthfully.

This could end up sinking Cheny's battleship and take Rover down too.

Loose lips sink ships!

Carey said...

'Nuff said, Mr. Williams, absolutely, you've hit all the key, overwhelming points. 'Nuff said. Williams is soooo in the ball park.

You know, you get to a point, where it all seems for naught, and then you read someone like Don Williams hitting every god damn thing right smack on the head and in spades. You say thank-you. Someone, at least had the energy left to still question the effin crap out of Bush/Cheney.


You've gotta be kidding me!!! A historic march on Washington of massive proportions and Hillary has to be covered? Ay, ay, ay!


This trial, for those of us who completely read Hubris, does not come as a complete surprise; that Cheney dominated so. The Sanger/Pincus leak is well documented, all part of a public persuasion plan to sell the war. I cannot and will not ever let Bush off any hook, however. The man's a total megalomaniac. What I'm looking forward to, which Hubris wasn't able to completely cover, is just how far Cheney involved himself in all manner of every detail in the White House. Oy, is he an evil one.

Now with Rove indicted, this is getting so interesting.

For the record, I haven't checked in with WMR as often lately.

Dr. B,

The argument is, (as I'm sure you already know) that Iran needs this uranium enrichment since they have so botched their oil accruement. Is that a word? (David Corn pointed out these facts a few weeks ago.) They need the energy from the uranium enrichment. Who's to know, Iran is being provoked at every turn. They're going to look bad no matter what. It's in the darn cards.

Suffice it to say, it is looking more and more like we're hitting Iran with nukes. Yes, nukes. Unbelievable you say. Have you met Bush?

This is out of Truthdig on the roughshod manner in which Alberto Gonazales is firing and hiring U.S. Attorneys all over the States. He's utilizing a small change in the Patriot Act to circumvent Congress and make supreme the executive branch and its desires.

It points to just how thorough this Bush revolution is attempting to take all, everything. We just lost a superb District Attorney here in San Diego, Carol Lam, from these very political actions.

Gonzales Appoints Political Loyalists into Vacant U.S. Attorneys Slots

I would point out that Carol Lam's position was not vacant. She was fired.

Oh, and Den,

I have heard that story about Hillary's great, great uncle. It's true from what I understand. A perfect example of the H.R. Clinton machine at work, don't you think? Isn't it just going to be so pretty so watch? Wretch.

She's already on a major, major warpath against Obama. She'll take no prisoners. I'm surprised she let Bill live.

Carey said...

Oh gosh, a Freudian slip. I meant Rove subpoenaed.

Oh, don't we wish.

David B. Benson said...

Carey --- Yes, they want nuclear power, they say. However, they have not been fully cooperative with the IAEA, which casts doubts on their ultimate intentions.

The situation is not helped by the speeches of their president. Altogether, a mess...

Anonymous said...

To Hatch a Thief

Sorry folks but that story about Hillary's uncle is BS. It first went around the internet years ago -- at one point, it was Tipper Gore's uncle in the story.

Why do people get such a kick out of starting these stupid stories anyway?

Anonymous said...

Boy, the Repug attack machine works so well it can smear two Democratic Senators with one scurrilous, unattributed story -- and the people are falling all over themselves believeing every word of it!

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama work well together in the Senate and there is a possibility that the two of them will be the Democratic presidential ticket in '08. Anyway who believes that Hillary originated this story could be suckered into buying oceanfront property in Kansas.

The Washington Times' online magazine Insight published the unattributed story first about Obama's boyhood with the intent to get the story "out there" -- on hate radio, the blogosphere, CNN/Fox -- to victimize Obama and Clinton and cause damage to both of them.

This is a textbook example of how the Repug attack machine works -- and it does work!

David B. Benson said...

Micki --- The sea stand is projected to rise, due to AGW, but not that much!

Sorry, find someone else to sell your ocean-front property to... ;-)

DEN said...

Know the truth?

Yessir, there he was swinging on a rope, well look how easy it is TO get roped into believing crap.

My point stands proven.

What can you believe to be true from someone else? We must rely on truth to keep a civil society, civil.

Without truth as a standard, how then do we measure a man?

Too much thinkin', better go test some beers.

Nite all!!

Saladin said...

Mr. Benson, Iran is NOT cooperating? Isn't that what they said about Iraq also? And what is the president saying, something about wiping Israel off the map? Right, whatever, anything to rile up the sheep. I'm sure it's just a matter of time until OBL unleashes his cell phone powered nuke against us. Better stock up on duct tape and bottled water. What was that about people getting a kick out of starting stupid stories? Only difference is, thousands of innocents will die because of this stupid story.

Anonymous said...

Saladin, no don't stock up on duct tape and bottled water. No sirree. Just keep running and lifting weights and buying guns and gold and silver and rice and beans and -- no wait, buy the bottled water -- and you'll be able to keep all the demons at bay. The demons are everywhere afterall. Over there! No, over there! Duck! Hide! Fuck 'em. I love guns. Big guns. Little guns. Guns is peace. If the guvmint doesn't invent enough demons, we got enough good all-American, red-blooded, guvmint-hating, gun-totin' citizens to help us see that demons 'r us. We iz everywhere. Demons. Demons. Demons.

º¿carol said...

Without truth as a standard, how then do we measure a man? Six inches? Or is it 8? I can never remember.

Alan said...

haha Carol, check out this site selling these t-shirts.

Good Dick/Bad Dick

Saladin said...

By all means, don't do what you can to stay healthy, just trust in fate, or the govt. to take care of you later, and don't worry about trying to protect whatever you've been able to save for your retirement because the dollar, which funds SS, is FOREVER, and above ALL, do not make attempts to gain the ability to defend yourself if worse comes to worse, your new and improved DEMOCRAT led majority will protect you from all those freedom hating terrorists, (AKA demons) So just hand over the guns, big and small, and leave it to them. Excellent advice!